Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

Jobs and Inner Conflict

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I have decided that I need to get a job.

As much as I wish I enjoyed staying home with my little girls, I failed to receive the “Stay-At-Home-Mom Gene”. It’s carried somewhere on the X chromosome, and apparently, mine malfunctioned. Kind of like the neurotransmitters that are supposed to keep me naturally sane. They just don’t work correctly.

When Julie was 10 months old, I put her in daycare so that I could finish school. I proceeded to survive student teaching and shortly thereafter, my stint as a fourth-grade teacher. I loved finishing school, and I adored being in the classroom. The responsibility, accountability, and everything else involved in being a teacher made me proud of my career. My students’ progress proved to me that I was indeed making a positive difference in 30 little people’s lives. They loved their mean, strict teacher, and I loved them. Picking Julie up from daycare became an eager part of my day. I couldn’t wait to spend the evening with my little stinky.

I would have enjoyed continuing to teach, but the budget cuts in the district in which I was teaching were devastating. I lost my job, as did a huge chunk of other first and second year teachers.

Instead, I had another baby the following Fall. I had considered substitute teaching after April was born, but the postpartum depression that nearly killed me hit so hard that I could barely see straight. Working was not an option; I was struggling to convince myself to put one foot in front of the other.

My decision to stay home with the girls, at that point, was one that I thought would fulfill my unspoken believe that a good mother should stay home with her kids. Where did I get that idea? From the fact that my mom stayed home and my parents used to talk about how that’s just what moms are supposed to do (oh, but both me and my sister were expected to go to college and earn degrees so we could have a career outside of the home)? Gee, I wonder.

I was raised on contradiction.

Love and respect your body- you’re beautiful and the body is a wonderful gift from God… and nothing God creates is bad. Oh, but if you fuck before you’re married or sleep with more than one person in your life, then your body is dirty and tainted. A woman’s job is to bear and raise kids and keep up the home… but girls, you both need to go to college, get degrees and have careers. Oh, and remember, a good mom is one that stays home with her kids. You wouldn’t want someone else raising them for you.

How could I not be conflicted about this?

So I did what felt right: I chose to stay home and taught dance from my home in the evenings. In some ways this was (and is) ideal. I’m raising my kids, but I’m also doing something I love and bringing in money. Except at the same time, I feel like I am doing my kids a disservice by staying home with them because being home all day long makes me feel stir crazy. Having an unhappy mother can’t be a good thing for my kids, and I fear that the lack of socialization that April is receiving is contributing to her extreme clinginess and difficult behavior- I find she acts a bit more independent and self-reliant when she’s around other people and I’m not present. In her case, daycare would probably be very healthy.

James and I began discussing this problem after a recent counseling session, and we both came to the same conclusion: I would be happier if I had a “real job”. A day job would provide me with the adult interaction that I crave, get me out of the house in rain or shine, and give me that sense of fulfillment that I have always gotten from working.

So, internet world, my quest for a career outside the home begins this week. Currently, I am digging through my computer documents and brushing off the dust and cobwebs of all my old resumes. It’s going to take some work to get that thing updated and ready to submit.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

I know it’s depression when…

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

…I don’t feel the urge to dance when I hear a good blues or hip-hop song.

…coffee and chocolate are the only things I can get myself to ingest for the majority of my meals.

…I don’t want to bake cookies.

…going to the gym just sounds like too much work for me to consider.

…I start looking up pictures of celebrity stretch marks in attempt to make myself feel better. It never works.

…I have no desire to work on whatever craft or house project I’m currently focused on finishing.

…the mere thought of sex makes me want to cry.

…the dishes can wait.

…I can’t seem to stop picking at zits that are virtually nonexistent.

…I spend the majority of the day vegging out in front of my computer.

…pajamas are the designated outfit for the day.

…leaving the house with two kids is too much effort.

…I pull out a mirror and scrutinize my childbirth-ruined hoo-haw. And it makes me hate myself.

…all I want to do is sleep, but my head just won’t shut up long enough for me to relax.

…the details of yesterday are foggy or nonexistent.

…the TV serves as a great babysitter.

…answering that phone call seems like way too much work.

…all the caffeine in Seattle can’t seem to give me a smidgen of energy.

……………………….

Luckily, today these don’t apply. Today, I feel well.

Thank God.

Current Mood:Surprised emoticon Surprised

Another Vaginalogue

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

While I was in Tucson last week, I had a bit of an epiphany.

I am done having kids.

As in, this baby factory is CLOSED. Forever and ever. Amen.

You see, despite everything I have been through mentally and physically as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, I have been struggling to emotionally accept a fact that I know logically: I cannot handle bearing any more babies.

I’ve said time and time again that I have no desire to have another one. I mean, shit, for awhile I was pretty set on having no children whatsoever, but then life happened. However, in the back of my twisted mind, I have always felt some sort of obligation to have more than just two children. An obligation to whom, you ask? To God, my family, my husband, and even to myself.

As part of my Catholic wedding vows, I promised before my parish priest, family, friends, and James that I would willingly and lovingly accept as many children as God asks of me. I took that vow to heart, and as a couple, James and I agreed to to follow the Catholic beliefs and practices of natural family planning. I truly believed that with enough Faith, I would have a wonderful life raising three or four (or maybe even five) little humans while selflessly practicing abstinence during fertile times if a pregnancy was not desirable in our immediate future.

Well, um, that lifestyle and practice was a huge freaking joke for us. Maybe we just don’t have enough Faith, or perhaps the Catholic beliefs regarding family planning are just a bunch of controlling bullshit (*cough*), but for whatever the reason, we failed miserably at fulfilling those vows the way they were intentionally meant in just about every way possible.

And when I say failed, I kind of mean we ate, threw up, shot the remains, hosted a wild sex party on top of, and threw birth control at all while laughing at the Catholic beliefs on making babies.

Sadly, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I prayed like crazy, went to church every week, and devoutly volunteered my time in teaching and practicing the Catechism. I mean, not only did I attend Catholic school for eight years, but I was one of my parish’s first female alter servers, the youngest person to be elected onto the Parish Council, served seven years on said council- the last one as vice-president, taught Vacation Bible School and Sunday School for years, served on a couple other ministries, took part in a young adult faith-sharing group, and loved every moment I spent as a Eucharistic Minister.

But you know what? My religion didn’t take into consideration things like severe mental illness when interpreting the Word of God’s thoughts on birth control. Or the physical trauma I experienced when I ripped in half while birthing my first and all the prolapse I suffered after birthing my second behemoth-sized munchkin. Sure, I am as disgustingly fertile as women appear to possibly come, but the truth is, my body would probably only sustain extreme damage with birthing another one of my husband’s huge babies, and I honestly don’t think I would survive another bout of postpartum depression. I am terrified that it would be full-blown psychosis and I’d drive my car off a bridge without ever knowing I hit the ice-cold water, or that I’d be so far over the edge that I’d be nearly comatose while trying to raise three kids.

It’s just not worth the risk. For me, but even more so for my husband and kids.

Well, up until this last week, I still had this idea in my head that maybe, just maybe, I might someday be able to fulfill my wedding vows and pop out thirty-six kids like that special family you see on TV. I’m not knocking them. Each to their own. But seriously? There’s a point when you just gotta ask yourself… does God REALLY want me to just keep pooping babies out of my hoo-haw, or did He give me a brain that can handle reasoning, common sense, and logical thinking FOR A REASON?

And that’s when it dawned on me: maybe God really wouldn’t be angry with me for only having as many as I can handle. Sure, for that one family, one-hundred-thirteen kids is something they can handle just fine. For me, um, well, smart people made Prozac for a reason.

I was unable to accept that idea for a long time. The family and religious values run deep in my veins, despite what a heathen I’ve become in the past year.

But something happened this week while I was away.

I realized that I really am done having kids, and I am perfectly happy with just my two beautiful, incredible girls. I am best off not putting my body through anymore pregnancies or postpartum roller coasters both physically and mentally, and it’s healthiest for my husband and children for me to be on this earth, mentally well, and able to function. Chancing ruining their lives just so I can fulfill some unspoken and possibly unsaid obligation to God and everyone around me just doesn’t sound like something that a loving, kind God would ask of me. If some religion says otherwise, then it can just suck my prolapsed pussy.

When I realized that I felt released of this “obligation” and I felt happy about my choice to stick with just my two cutie-pies, I was ready to do the thing that my sister and I did last week: get a tattoo on my hip/abdomen.

Getting that piece of ink was liberating. A promise to myself and my body: I am done having babies, and I’m not going to worry about birth control anymore because my husband has agreed that is is time to get a vasectomy. Woo hoo! Thank you, James!

Furthermore, I owe my vagina a bit of love, so I have decided that I’m going to get it fixed.

In a perfect world, I could just accept what has happened to the damn thing and move forward. But, the world most certainly is far from perfect, and I’m in even worse shape. And my va-jay-jay… um… well, it’s a scarred, prolapsed battle zone that I know I’ll never be able to accept. Even with all the physical therapy, I will forever have problems and issues related to the prolapse. A feeling of heaviness in my lower abdomen sometimes, and this sensation that my organs are going to fall out of my body if I cough too hard. The cramps during my period are worse than they where pre-babies, and something as simple as using the bathroom is frequently interrupted by the fact that my bladder and rectal prolapse is squeezing off the flow of elimination. As I age, my pelvic floor muscles will only become weaker. Even with the lifestyle changes I’ve made to accommodate the prolapse and the daily exercises I do to keep my pelvic floor muscles in the best shape possible, the prolapse will never be cured and will only get worse with time. While there are risks involved with getting my vagina fixed, there’s a good chance that the outcome would be much, much better than what I have to deal with now.

Are you feeling a bit traumatized yet? Because if not, I AM ABOUT TO GO THERE.

So, in addition to my complaints above, there are the sexual side effects to prolapse. Sex just doesn’t feel right, and I am embarrassed by how it looks down there.  I mean, I suppose it doesn’t look all that bad, but there’s a spot near my perineum where I wasn’t sewn up correctly after my first vaginal birth. The fact that it wasn’t put back together right is something that only a blind person couldn’t see… and some of that tissue has prolapsed beyond the opening. It’s always bothered me because it’s a bit uncomfortable during sex and when I’m, um, wiping down there. Additionally, the sensation of my hoo-haw just kind of sucks now. Organs protruding from where they’re supposed to be are kind of soft and gushy, and even though it’s a nice, snug fit for my husband’s penis… it feels kind of sloppy to me. Like, not loose, just sloppy. Like things aren’t in the right place… because they’re NOT in the right place. My cervix sits low in the canal, my uterus is dropped, and my rectum and bladder are falling inward and down in my hoo-haw. While sex still feels pleasurable and I can orgasm from it, it just doesn’t feel as comfortable or as good as it did before my second vaginal birth. Even with the pelvic floor rehabilitation I went through, there’s still a noticeable difference that I just hate so much. I frequently find sex to be emotionally damaging because I feel so humiliated by what a mess I believe my vagina really is.

Perhaps a lot of other women are in the same shoes I’m in, but I have yet to hear anyone else talk about it, and not a single health professional has told me that what I’ve experienced is all that typical for someone young and healthy like myself. Or maybe everyone DOES feel loose and sloppy after having babies, but somehow they can just accept it and it doesn’t bother them. Yeah, I wish, but that’s just not my experience.

James swears that it feels good in there, but said that instead of feeling like the more rigid canal that it used to be, it feels soft and there’s a lot less friction, even when I’m contracting my PC muscles as hard as I can. That’s probably a gentleman’s way of nicely saying I feel loose and yucky down there, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to believe him. Every time I have sex, I realize that while it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of room diameter-wise in there, it does feels soft like he said. Too much lube equals almost zero sensation, even though I still fit nicely around him. It’s a sucky problem to have, and its humiliating to live with. No amount of reassurance has helped me feel otherwise.

Last night I discussed my desire to get my hoo-haw fixed with James. This is not a new topic coming from me, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to talk about it with a very clear head and with my mind made up that I am done having kids. He agreed that it would be worth getting evaluated to see if I would be a good candidate for a successful surgery, and this morning my therapist gave me a recommendation for a gynecologist that has good results with this sort of thing.

So world, not only do I have a new tattoo, but my husband is going to get his baby batter tubes snipped, AND I’m going to start making appointments to find a doctor I trust to fix the prolapse and broken vagina I’ve been burdened with.

Never in my life have I thought that I would actually consider surgery for something like this, but then again, I never thought I was going to end up on Prozac, either. Funny how that sort of thing works out, eh?

And just to give you fair warning: prepare yourselves for all kinds of TMI moments coming up on my blog in the near future. If you think I’ve been bad before, I can only imagine what kind of shit’s going to hit the computer screen next.

Current Mood:Cool emoticon Cool

Crashing, Burning, Realizing, Accepting

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Bear with me… this one’s a hard one to write.

I’ve been thinking about the last couple months today, and I feel like I finally have a pretty clear understanding as to what really happened and why.

I was doing well for a number of months during summer and fall. Moving to Seattle in September, buying a new (very old) house, and learning a new city was a whirlwind. I had no time to dwell on depression. I was mentally stable through that time. October was a little harder, as was November. The near-fatal error happened at the beginning of December: I asked my psychiatrist if I could lower my Prozac dosage by 10mg.

I keep wondering why I chose then to ask. At the time, I realized I was stable as a result of the dose I was on, so why? The decline in happiness in late autumn was directly related to marital stresses that James and I were struggling to get through. Part of the problem was my lack of sex drive, but that was probably more of a result of the issues we were dealing with as a couple. So why, then, did I ask to lower my dose in the first place? I knew it wasn’t going to help anything. I knew I was having a rough time in my marriage. Why on EARTH did I think dropping the medication dose was going to help at all when I knew that was probably the last thing I needed?

The answer I hate admitting slapped me in the face today. The Ugly Truth that I’ve been trying so hard to keep hidden from everyone including myself. An answer that I have, of course, known all along but have been trying to deny. I was hoping I was “well enough” to start weaning back on antidepressants, but I really wasn’t.

By December, I was a few months post-breastfeeding. My body was back to being mine. I wanted so, so badly to believe that the depression, anxiety, OCD, and paranoia that hit full force as a postpartum mental illness was finally subsiding.

It wasn’t, and I was in denial. I knew that I needed that higher dose of Happy Drugs to keep me functioning, yet I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would be alright if I cut back. Well, no, I didn’t think I would be okay, l just really hoped I would.

See, if that plan worked, then I was going to ask to cut back another 10mg, and so on. I thought that maybe it might be possible to wean off antidepressants all together eventually.

Stupid.

The drop in my mental stability happened almost immediately upon taking the lower dose. By the time the holidays rolled around, I was faking a smile half the time. My stomach started hurting chronically. I didn’t want to admit that I could feel myself slipping. Not to anyone, but especially myself.

About mid-January was when I went spiraling downwards. I started to panic a few days before leaving for a dance competition in California. I kept changing my mind about how I was going to get there: drive, fly, drive, fly, rental car, fly, drive, fly… I felt that OCD twitch spring up on me and I kept going back and forth. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I felt like screaming. It was stupid because the travel plans had already been taken care of, and I knew it. That was just THE SIGN, though. When I realized what was happening, my chest felt tight and I told James I wished he hadn’t bought me the ticket for the convention. There was no getting a refund, so I was stuck, but I was panicking because I had a feeling that it was just going to be another horrible competition experience. The kind where I barely make it through the weekend because I can’t stand being in the ballroom around all the normal, happy people. The kind of weekend that poses as a reminder to how not okay I really am at times. The kind that pushes me over the edge and there’s no ledge to break my fall.

It was.

The rest of January and half of this month were hell. I barely left the house, and I couldn’t handle being social for more than a short period of time. I was slipping further and further into the depression, and I knew it.

Finally, I made the choice to call my psychiatrist and told her what had been happening. That’s when I was put back on my old dose of Prozac and I chose to add a bit of Wellbutrin to the drug cocktail.

For some, that combination works wonders, but it almost killed me. Or rather, while it’s painful for me to admit, I almost killed me. Not the drug, me.

A week off the Wellbutrin with only the correct dose of Prozac in my system has brought me to this point and has allowed me to finally be completely present again, or as “with it” as I ever am, anyway. Now that I can see clearly, I have been reviewing my mental situation over the last few several months. The rise, the fall, and finally, the crash and burn.

And you know what the absolute sickening realization that I walked away with is? I almost didn’t walk away this time. I was so far gone two weeks ago that I don’t remember the week I was on Wellbutrin. Sure, I have my writing to remind me. My insane Facebook statuses, the aching muscles from working out at the gym, the worried creases on my husband’s and friends’ faces when they look at me. Searching for that sign that I’m not going to fall again.

I am not able to survive without the correct dose of the right drug. I cannot fight the demons in my head without the help of a therapist. I am unable to move forward without leaning on others for a bit of help. I will never be that strong person that I thought I appeared to be before I had kids.

I was not well then, either. I never was. Before I had children, though, I had enough time to focus on forcing myself to just keep swimming. After having kids, that was impossible. It forced me to accept that I couldn’t do it without help. My bad days weren’t just MY bad days anymore, they started affecting my husband and kids more than anyone should have to endure. And I should know because I have dealt with serious mental illness that went untreated in people I love for pretty much my entire life.

Except I didn’t really accept it. I wanted so badly to believe that it was a short-term solution. That one of these days I’d wake up and breathe in the morning with clarity without the help of drugs.

Perhaps someday, but I need to understand deep down that the reality isn’t the truth I want to hear: I cannot be well without the antidepressants and extra help.

I just can’t do it. It’s part of me. And, ugh, I hate saying it more than I want to admit. I know it shows no weakness on my behalf, but I just never wanted it to come to this.

But so be it. I can find a way to accept this, smile bravely, and move forward. I have no other choice, and what happened a week ago proves it.

Landed

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

After a couple month of rocky depression slopes, almost two weeks of scrambling up the cliff to sanity without progress, a serious crash that left me broken everywhere except my smart mouth, and finally, a really badass birthday party, I landed safe and sound at Tucson International Airport this afternoon. Still sick as shit, but safe, and bearing two kids, a backpack, small diaper bag, purse, car seat, and a single suit case. My mom was waiting for us at the foot of the escalator, and the sparkle in her eyes when she saw her granddaughters made the 3-hour flight worth every second.

Although I was a little concerned that April might scream the entire trip, or that Julie would be afraid to use the airplane potty and piss all over the seat, my fears were unwarranted. Both girls were the model of perfection on that flight. I could have cried tears of relief when every adult around me commented on how well-behaved and adorable my kids were at the end of the ride if I hadn’t been wheezing so horribly to get air into my congested lungs. Have I ever told you how proud I am of my little stinkies? They’re not always picture-perfect on flights, but they really got it together on the day I needed it most.

I am in Tucson for a week, and I was excited to land in a very cloudy, rainy desert. I was even more excited to find that my family finished getting furniture for the guest room. I get to sleep all by myself on a brand new full-sized mattress, and that is going to be complete bliss. James is a wonderful, warm, sexy husband and all, but he’s a narcoleptic spaz when he sleeps most of the time.

My plans for the week are to visit a few friends, spend time with the family, and gain back the pounds I lost during the last few week’s stress-capade on Mexican food made by Real Mexicans, Praise the Lord. You haven’t had good Mexican food until you’ve eaten at the restaurants in southern Arizona.

Before any of that happens, though, I’m gonna curl up on my bed with my blanky and try to sleep without any dreams. I have been feeling mentally stable for three days straight, and I’m optimistic that I’m back on the right medication and dose.

Although, I think I might have to go to a Take-Care Clinic tomorrow. This illness is definitely not getting any better. *cough* *hack* *ugh*

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy & Sickly emoticon Sickly